Netflix Sci-Fi Dark Comedy Series Is The Perfect One-Day Binge

By Charlene Badasie | Published

The 2018 dark comedy-drama Maniac is streaming on Netflix. Created by Patrick Somerville and directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga, the 10-episode series is a reimagining of the Norwegian series of the same name. It stars Jonah Hill and Emma Stone in the lead roles, supported by a stellar ensemble cast including Justin Theroux, Sally Field, Sonoya Mizuno, Gabriel Byrne, and Jemima Kirke.

Maniac Stars Jonah Hill and Emma Stone

Jonah HIll Emma Stone

Maniac tells the story of two strangers, Owen Milgrim (Jonah Hill) and Annie Landsberg (Emma Stone), who sign up for a mysterious pharmaceutical trial. Owen is a man struggling with schizophrenia, while Annie is dealing with a traumatic past and a strained relationship with her family. Both are looking for an escape from their troubled lives.

The pharmaceutical trial they join promises to solve all their problems with no complications or side effects. Led by Dr. James K. Mantleray (Justin Theroux), it involves a series of mind-bending, immersive experiences induced by experimental drugs. As Owen and Annie undergo treatment, they bond within a series of interconnected and surreal alternate realities.

A Cure For What Ails You

Maniac begins in New York City, where Owen Milgrim hides his schizophrenia symptoms. After losing his job, Owen joins a trial at Neberdine, a pharmaceutical company, for a new drug that promises to cure all disorders. There, he meets Annie Landsberg, who helps him avoid trouble by pretending to know him. Annie, dealing with her own issues, gets into the drug trial by stealing a badge.

A Hard Pill To Swallow

After taking the “A” pill, Annie relives her sister Ellie’s death. Annie, Owen, and another test subject are questioned after the “A” pill test, and Owen reveals his past trauma. When the GRTA supercomputer malfunctions, it links Annie and Owen during the “B” pill test. The malfunction leads to complications in the trial, and Dr. Greta Mantleray (Sally Field) is brought in to fix it.

Well-Received By Critics And Audiences Alike

Maniac received generally positive reviews from critics, who praised the performances of Hill and Stone, as well as the ambitious and imaginative storytelling. The series was lauded for its unique visual style, thought-provoking themes, and eclectic approach. The aesthetic draws on influences from the 1980s and incorporates retro-futuristic elements.

The series premiered at the Southbank Centre in London, England, in September 2018, followed by its American debut two days later at Center 415 in Manhattan, New York. Maniac, described as “wild, audacious, addictive” and a “brilliant piece of world-building,” currently holds an 85 percent critics score on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes alongside an equally impressive 84 percent audience rating.

A Little Too Cold And Calculating

While the overall consensus was largely positive, Maniac was not without its detractors. Some reviewers felt that the show was too calculated and lacked the thrill of the unexpected despite its mind-bending premise. One critic noted that while incredibly fun to watch, the series becomes emptier the more one thinks about it.

Stream Maniac On Netflix

Sill, Maniac serves as a bold and unconventional exploration of the human psyche, marked by standout performances and a distinctive visual flair. The Netflix series is a definite must-watch for fans of the black psychological comedy-drama genre.